Review by Psycho Penguin

"It's definitely classic, but there is a major flaw..."

The Nintendo Entertainment System had a lot of quality games. It also had a lot of arcade to console translations. Yup, the arcade fad did not hit when Playstation or Nintendo 64 started, no, it went all the way back to the days of the NES. Games such as Bad Dudes and Double Dragon were just a few of the many games that went from arcade hit to NES game. Contra was another one of these games.

After enjoying a fair amount of success at the arcade, Konami ported Contra to the Nintendo Entertainment System, to much fanfare. I had heard a lot of the game, so when I played the game for the 1st time I expected a lot. And most of my expectactions did come true. Contra is a great NES game, but it did have a few problems, mainly the steep challenge and somewhat slow gameplay. Regardless, Contra is a classic that should be enjoyed by everyone.

The storyline is not exactly wonderful, but at least it is different than the average ''save your girlfriend'' storyline being released around the time this game was out. You are a commando mercenary sent in to infiltrate some island from the evil control of a bad guy's who's name I forget right now (stupid me, the name is legendary). Oh well, while it is not the most wonderful storyline in the world, it is original, and besides, who the hell cares about storyline in an action game, anyways?

The graphics in the game are pretty much arcade perfect, according to my friend. I have never played the arcade version but can probably say that the games was indeed arcade perfect. The backgrounds were quite good and the enemy and charcater designs were great. There was some slowdown problems, especially with multiple enemies on the screen at the same time, but overall the graphics in the game are good for a game released in this time period. The enemies and characters were a tad small, but that was just so they can fill the screen with as much enemies as possible, I guess.

The music and sound effects in the game are also top notch. The music had a nice beat to it and was definitely some of the better music featured at the time. I especially enjoyed the 2nd stage theme and the 1st stage themes, they sounded really great. The game had some really classic music that holds its own against music being released in video game nowadays. No one will ever be able to forget some of the music in the game once they hear it. Now that's quality music. The sound effects were great as well, ranging from explosions to music that plays when you beat a stage/level. Great stuff.

Control in the game is a tad loose, but you'll be able to figure it out soon enough. I wish there was a way to change the controls, but since the amount of buttons on the controller was a tad limited, I can see why Konami avoided that. One button is to shoot, and the other is to jump. You can also fire off a special weapon, but you need to push select in order to select one. That was cool. You can hold a few different weapons at one time, using select to select one, then the fire button to shoot them. Jumping is about as good as you'd expect.

Contra is one of the most classic games ever to grace the Nintendo Entertainment System. It's a side scrolling action game, but some of the stages feature other things. Like while some stages are sidecrolling, others are from the ''you're looking up while firing at enemies'' view while others (like the 3rd stage) have you climb the stage vertically. The game may not be as good as its Super Nintendo counterpart, but there is no question in my mind that Contra is a classic game. It does have its one main flaw, but otherwise, this is a superbly innovative game.

As I mentioned before, there are a bunch of different kind of stages, which makes Contra very unique and classic in its own right. First, you have the usual side scrolling stages. These are the kind of stages that you saw in almost every kind of shooting game being released back then. You go from left to right, killing enemies with various weapons. There is also some platform action, including jumping from moving platform to moving platform, with lava underneath you. Then there are the stages which have you go vertically, as the screen goes up you go up. These stages are awesomely designed and a lot of fun.

In addition to these two kinds, there are also the classic ''camera behind you'' stages. While there are only two of these stages in the game, they are simply a lot of fun. Your guy is on the bottom of the screen, and above you are your enemies. Usually, these enemies will throw things at you, which you have to avoid. Sometimes, they will shoot at you. Then, there are lasers, which you have to jump over, plus the barrels the enemies hurl, which you also have to jump over. At the end of these stages, you have to fight a huge boss, which can be quite complex due to the amount of things you can shoot at. These stages rock and are a load of fun.

Contra is a lot of fun, but it has one main flaw that keeps me from giving it a 10. Maybe I was just spoiled by Contra 3, I don't know. But the game moves slower than dirt sometimes, and the fact that most of your weapons fire really slowly hurts the gaming experience a lot. Compare the firing speed of the weapons in Contra 3 to the firing speed of the weapons in Contra, and you will see why I am complaining. If the weapons would have fired faster, I may have just given this a 10.

Regardless, the game is fantastic, and a lot of fun to play. It has a high amount of challenge, as this game is infamous for its challenge level. Even with the infamous Konami code, it will still prove to be quite a challenge. First timers will be lucky to get out of the first stage without getting a few game overs. I used the Konami Code and managed to beat the game, but I still have never completed the game withoutm using the code. It's that tough.

You will want to replay the game a lot, even though it does have a high challenge. I think wanting to complete the game without the code will be enough for people to want to keep playing time after time. It is a blast to play, and despite the lack of secrets and insane amount of challenge, people will definitely want to play this game a lot. I know I sure did, and I still play this game a lot nowadays. It's just one of those classic games with a high amount of replay value.

Despite the major flaw with the game speed and how fast the guns fire, Contra is an all time classic that will be etched in video game history forever. The graphics are sweet, the music is fantastic, the challenge is legendary, this game has it all and so much more. People may be turned off due to the insane challenge, but those looking for a great challenge could do a whole lot worse than play this gem. I seriously advise playing it no matter what way, ROM or cartridge, because this is a really great game that deserves to be missed out by no one.

Good Points
-The music and sound effects are really classic.
-The graphics are a visual high point for the era it was released in.
-The challenge is extreme and legendary.
-The game is a lot of fun to play and features tight controls.
-It has a load of replay value, despite the lack of secrets.

Not So Good Points
-The firing speed of the weapons is extremely disappointing.
-Maybe the game is a little too challenging...
-Some of the backgrounds tend to repeat themselves a little too much.
-Storyline, but who cares?

I Run Down The Game.. Psycho Penguin Style!
Storyline - 5.6/10
Graphics - 8.3/10
Music - 9.4/10
Sound Effects - 9.2/10
Controls - 9.3/10
Gameplay - 9.2/10
Replay Value - Above Average
Challenge - Freakishly Above Average
Is This Game Worth A Purchase? - It sure is.
Overall - 9.3/10

The Bottom Line
Innovative, fun, and extremely challenging, this is a great game to own for your NES collection. Get it now!


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 04/05/00, Updated 01/08/02


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